Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
On the way from the Maldives to Thailand, we had a full day layover in Sri Lanka. We made the most of it by visiting an elephant orphanage, a tea plantation and the holy city of Kandy. After a 60-mile drive that indeed took almost 4 hours in traffic and on mountain roads, our first stop for the day was the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Thanks to the delay in our arrival, we missed the morning bottle feeding of the baby elephants but arrived just in time to see the elephants enjoying their late-morning trip down to the river. There were dozens of elephants – young and old – enjoying the cool river on a blazingly hot Sri Lankan day. There were also hundreds of people (mostly locals) who had come out to see them. Since the day of our visit turned out to be Sri Lanka’s national independence holiday, tons of local families were out and about enjoying the day. It was so much fun to watch the baby elephants play in the water and we spent quite a while just taking it all in. Our final stop for the day was one of Sri Lanka’s prime tourist sites, the Royal City of Kandy. Set in the center of lush hills and surrounding a scenic lake, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kandy was the last bastion of resistance to colonial rule. The city is known for distinctive architecture, dance, art and music. Its most famous site is the Dalada Maligawa or the “Temple of the Tooth.” The temple is home to the Buddha’s tooth relic which is an item of great significance to all Buddhists.